Evan Jenkins, 72, a writer for many years with the Inter-American Development Bank, died of a heart attack Oct. 11 at George Washington University Hospital. He lived in the District.

Throughout the 1960s, in the years before he joined the bank, Mr. Jenkins sought to make a go of it as a freelance writer, an undertaking he once described as "an elegant way of saying I read 300 books a year, learned how to eat very well on practically no money and really worked perhaps one month per annum."

Mr. Jenkins, who was born in Chicago, received a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Chicago in 1952. After working for a year as a writer for Popular Mechanics magazine in Chicago, he took the government service examination, moved to the District and began working in 1954 as a loan underwriter for the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Mr. Jenkins's father was a former administrator of the Marshall Plan for the reconstruction of Greece, which allowed his son to experience life in Europe.

The elder Jenkins later was named chairman of the Southside Development Commission in Chicago, and when he died in 1961, the board asked Mr. Jenkins to succeed his father. As head of the urban renewal agency, Mr. Jenkins was responsible for replacing substandard housing on Chicago's South Side with high-rise public-housing apartment buildings, which in later years would become notorious havens of crime and violence.

Mr. Jenkins left the agency in 1963 and, as nephew Clay Jenkins explained, "dropped out" to write. From 1963 to 1971, he wrote prose and poetry for numerous magazines. As his nephew recalled, Mr. Jenkins spent a great deal of time calculating whether it was more cost-efficient to buy beans at a nearby grocery or drive to a store across town where he could buy beans for less.

His life as a perennially starving literary artist came to an end in 1971, when he dropped back into the workaday world, joining the Inter-American Development Bank as an underwriter of international loans to South and Central American countries. His primary responsibility involved writing annual reports on the performance of the loans.

He retired in 1990 and purchased a 60-acre property in West Virginia, which became a commune of sorts for what he called his "West Virginia family," old friends from his freelance days in the 1960s.

In retirement, he played tennis, took up bird-watching and taught himself to play the flute, to sculpt and to draw. He also became an accomplished wildlife photographer. He supported himself by logging oaks on his property and investing in South American paintings.

He divided his time between West Virginia and an apartment in the District, and he often arranged soirees at Marshall's Bar and Grille in Georgetown and other favorite watering holes. He was an accomplished conversationalist, and his many friends considered him "almost a modern-day Samuel Johnson," his nephew said.

Mr. Jenkins never married. "[I] not only had no wife but had no near misses -- i.e., was never engaged," he once wrote. "There were three women in my life I could have imagined being happily married to, but somehow the timing was never right."

There are no immediate survivors.